Dale Alford

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Thomas Dale Alford, Sr.

U.S. Representative for
Arkansas's (since disbanded)
5th Congressional District
In office
January 3, 1959 – January 3, 1963
Preceded by Brooks Hays
Succeeded by (position eliminated by reapportionment)

Member of the Little Rock School Board
In office

Born January 28, 1916
New Hope, Pike County, Arkansas
Died January 25, 2000 (aged 83)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Resting place Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) L'Moore Smith Alford (married 1940–1999, her death)
Children Thomas D. Alford, Jr. (1943–1989)
L'Moore Fontaine Alford Goss (1942–2002)
Anne Maury Alford Winans

Thomas H. and Ida Womack Alford

Alma mater Arkansas State University
University of Central Arkansas
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Occupation Ophthalmologist
Religion Episcopalian

Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
(Army Medical Corps)
Years of service 1940–1946
Rank Captain
Battles/wars European Theater of Operations of World War II

Thomas Dale Alford, Sr. (January 28, 1916 – January 25, 2000), known as Dale Alford, was an American ophthalmologist and politician from his native state of Arkansas. From 1959 to 1963, he served as a Democrat in the United States House of Representatives for the since-defunct 5th congressional district, based about the capital city of Little Rock.

Although largely known for his opposition towards the integration of Little Rock public schools, Alford previously supported the desegregation of the Episcopal Diocese in Arkansas as a church senior warden.[1]


Alford was born in tiny New Hope, located near Murfreesboro in southwestern Pike County, to Thomas H. Alford (1894–1985) and the former Ida Womack (1897–1978).[2] He attended public schools at Rector in Clay County in northeastern Arkansas. He graduated from high school in 1932, a year ahead of schedule.[3]

Alford attended what is now Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in eastern Arkansas, the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in Faulkner County, and he received his medical degree in 1939 from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at Little Rock. He served his internship at St. Anthony's Hospital in Oklahoma City and his residency in general surgery at Missouri Pacific Hospital in Little Rock. He received post-graduate training at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

While he was in college, Alford was a radio sportscaster who covered the football games of the Southwest Conference. He turned down an opportunity to become a national broadcaster to concentrate on his medical career.

Military and medical practice

Alford served as a captain during World War II in the United States Army Medical Corps from 1940 to 1946. He was on active duty as a surgeon in the European Theater of Operations. Afterwards from 1947 to 1948, he was an assistant professor at Methodist-affiliated Emory University College of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.[2]

On his return to Arkansas, he opened a private practice and was the chief assistant in opthalmological surgery at the Little Rock Veterans Hospital. He was active in all levels of the Arkansas and American Medical Associations as well as the American Board of Opthalmology, the College of Surgeons, International Surgeons, and Cataract Refractive Surgeons. He served on the teaching faculty at the University of Arkansas Medical School at Little Rock from 1948 to 1958.

Alford's successful medical practice notably served both black and white patients.[1]

Political career

From 1955 to 1958, he was a member of the elected Little Rock School Board during the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School. He was also an appointed member of the trustees of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

1958 House race

In 1958, Alford jumped into the election against incumbent U.S. Representative Brooks Hays, who did not openly support the segregation of Little Rock public education. His campaign was headed by Claude Carpenter, Jr., an aide to Governor Orval E. Faubus.[1]

Alford was narrowly elected to Congress as an "Independent Democrat" and write-in candidate in the 1958 midterms.[4] The next successful write-in candidate elected to the House was the conservative Republican Joe Skeen, who won in New Mexico in 1980. He ran almost entirely on opposition towards Hays' racial moderation, and his supporters printed thousands of stickers with his name on them and handed them out at polling places.[1] Hays maintained a lead during the counting until an extra twenty boxes arrived bearing ballots with Alford stickers. Ultimately, Alford prevailed,[5] 30,739 (51 percent) to Hays' 29,483 (49 percent).[6]

The U.S. House in 1959 conducted an investigation of the election, which Alford denounced and described as "politically inspired."[7]

Re-election and House tenure

In 1960, Alford won his second term in the House with 57,617 votes (82.7 percent) to Republican L. J. Churchill (1902–1987) of Dover in Pope County in northwestern Arkansas,[8] who received only 12,054 ballots (17.3 percent) though Richard M. Nixon polled 43 percent in his losing race to John F. Kennedy for the Arkansas electoral votes. Churchill was a highly regarded civic and political figure in Dover. A Cumberland Presbyterian (a conservative denomination) and a Mason, he was elected to the positions of mayor of Dover and member of the municipal school board, both offices nonpartisan.[9][10]

Alford had been the state chairman of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture. He operated L. J. Churchill's General Merchandise Store and was a member of the board of directors of the Bank of Dover.[9]

President Kennedy appointed Representative Alford as delegate and keynote speaker at the 51st Inter-parliamentary Conference held in 1962 in Brasilia, Brazil.

As a congressman, Alford appointed future General Wesley Clark, a confidant of later President William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton, as a cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Clark later headed forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, but the nomination went instead to John Kerry of Massachusetts, who served in the Vietnam War but lost to George W. Bush's reelection campaign.

Alford was a member of the Select Committee on Small Business, known as the Patman Committee when chaired by his Texas liberal Democrat colleague Wright Patman.[11] Coincidentally enough, the basis for some of the select committee's investigations were from the final report of the Cox Committee,[12] which his predecessor and intraparty rival Hays was the acting chairman for during a brief period.[13]

Two gubernatorial races

Alford's Little Rock-based district was merged with the 2nd district of chairman Wilbur Mills, long-term chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, after the 1960 census revealed that Arkansas had grown at less than the national average during the 1950s.[14] Rather than face certain defeat in the 1962 Democratic primary against Mills, at the time an icon in Arkansas politics, Alford instead chose to enter the primary against incumbent Governor Orval Eugene Faubus, who polled a majority over Alford, former Governor Sidney Sanders "Sid" McMath, Vernon H. Whitten, and two other candidates.[15] Faubus polled 208,996 ballots (51.6 percent) to McMath's 83,437 (20.6 percent), Alford's 82,815 (20.4 percent), and Whitten's 22,377 (5.5 percent). Faubus then prevailed with ease over the Republican nominee Willis Ricketts, a pharmacist from Fayetteville who ran on a "reform" agenda.[16]

Alford ran for governor again in 1966, when Faubus declined to do so. Alford finished fourth in the Democratic primary with 53,531 votes (12.7 percent).[17] He received 11,000 fewer voters than his old nemesis Brooks Hays, who with 64,814 (15.4 percent) finished third in the primary balloting. The Democrat runoff positions went to former Arkansas Supreme Court Justices James D. Johnson and Frank Holt. Johnson narrowly defeated Holt in the Democratic runoff but then lost to Moderate Republican Winthrop Rockefeller in the general election. Hays subsequently relocated to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he failed in a House comeback bid in 1972.[18]

Civic leadership

Alford was a founding member of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Little Rock and an active member of Trinity Episcopal Church. He was a former board member of the All Saints Episcopal School, a boarding school in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was a past president of the Arkansas State Opera Association and a member of the Phi Chi medical fraternity and Phi Kappa Alpha. He was past state commander of the Arkansas American Legion and an officer of the National Commission on Americanism. Alford was also affiliated with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Disabled American Veterans. He was a Mason and a member of the Little Rock Country Club and the Yacht Club.[3]


Alford died in Little Rock of congestive heart failure. He was preceded in death by his wife, the former L'Moore Smith (1919–1999), whom he married in 1940. She was the 1959 "Arkansas Woman of the Year."[19] He also lost his namesake son, Dale Alford, Jr. (1943–1989), an independent film producer and director who died in an automobile accident in Arizona at the age of forty-six.[20] Survivors included two daughters, L'Moore Fontaine Alford (1942–2002), an educator and artist, and Anne Maury Alford Winans, both of Little Rock;[21] daughter-in-law Kay Alford, widow of Dale, Jr., also of Little Rock; a brother, Dr. Boyce Alford of Pine Bluff in Jefferson County in southern Arkansas; a sister, Joyce Alford Gardner of Bryant in Saline County south of Little Rock; five grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.[3]

Services were held at the Trinity Episcopal Church. He is interred at historic Mount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock.[2]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Day, John Kyle. Thomas Dale Alford (1916–2000). Encyclopedia of Arkansas. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Thomas Dale Alford Sr. (1916-2000) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed October 13, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Thomas Dale Alford obituary, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, January 26, 2000.
  4. AR District 5 Race - Nov 04, 1958. Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  5. November 6, 1958. INTEGRATION FOE WINS IN ARKANSAS; Dr. Dale Alford, a Write-In Candidate, Defeats Hays -- Scores Moderation. The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  6. Billy Hathorn, The Republican Party in Arkansas, 1920-1982 (College Station, Texas, Texas A&M University history dissertation, 1983), pp. 168-170.
  7. Trussell, C. P. (February 12, 1959). ALFORD CONDEMNS HIS INVESTIGATORS; Says U. S. Inquiry Into His Election Is Persecution -Charges Are Denied. The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  8. AR District 5 Race - Nov 08, 1960. Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "L.J. Churchill, 84, dies at Dover," The Arkansas Gazette, October 3, 1987, obituary section.
  10. Hathorn, p. 192.
  12. Samson, Steven Alan (December 14, 1980). Charity For All: B. Carroll Reece and the Tax-Exempt Foundations. Liberty University. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  14. Dumas, Ernest (April 25, 2019). A forgotten candidate and the 1962 Arkansas governor’s race. Arkansas Times. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  15. AR Governor - D Primary Race - Jul 31, 1962. Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  16. Hathorn, pp. 198, 200.
  17. AR Governor - D Primary Race - Jul 26, 1966. Our Campaigns. Retrieved October 14, 2021.
  18. Hathorn, p. 170, 249.
  19. L'Moore Fontaine Smith Alford (1919-1999) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed October 13, 2021.
  20. Thomas Dale Alford Jr. (1943-1989) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed October 13, 2021.
  21. L'Moore Fontaine Alford (1942-2002) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed October 13, 2021.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress